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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)

Regional Cooperation with Eastern partners

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What is regional cooperation?

Regional cooperation addresses challenges common to all six Eastern European countries participating in the Eastern Partnership. Democracy, good governance and stability, sustainable economic development, improving energy and transport cooperation, protecting the environment and resolving conflicts are challenges where regional cooperation can make a difference.

Regional cooperation promotes dialogue amongst partners and builds bridges between the EU and six Eastern Neighbours and among these Eastern European countries themselves. Regional programmes complement national assistance programmes and support the priorities of the Eastern Partnership.

In addition, a number of regional activities have taken place in the context of two other regional political initiatives: the Northern Dimension and the Black Sea Synergy.

The main financial instrument supporting cooperation with the six Eastern Partnership partner countries is the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI). It replaces the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI, 2007-2013), which funds programmes and projects currently being implemented.

The strategic framework and priority areas for regional cooperation in 2014-2020 are set out in the ENI Regional East Strategy Paper. These priority areas are complemented by the Neighbourhood wide measures 2014-2017, which tackle issues of common interest to the 16 EU neighbouring countries that are partners in the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Regional cooperation is also funded from other EU instruments that cover the whole world and not just the Neighbourhood region. These global programmes include notably: the Instrument Contributing to Peace and Stabilitythe European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rightsthematic programmes of the Development Co-operation Instrument, the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation.

Implementation of regional cooperation

Regional cooperation funded by the ENPI is implemented through flagship initiatives and regional programmes and projects.

Flagship initiatives were created in 2010 to give more weight to specific priority cooperation areas: integrated border management; small and medium-sized enterprises; regional gas and electricity markets, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources; environmental governance; and prevention, preparedness and response to natural and man-made disasters.

In addition, regional programmes also support rule of law, policy dialogue, border management, transport, environment, territorial cooperation, information society, higher education, civil society, youth and culture.

Regional programmes include activities at regional level (learning lessons, information on the EU acquis, capacity building) and also pilot activities taking place at national or local level, and tailored to the specific challenges and needs of each partner country.

Projects funded from global programmes mostly fund projects in health and migration.

In December 2019, DG NEAR signed Framework Partnership Agreements (FPAs) with selected civil society organizations in the Eastern Partnership. As part of DG NEAR’s new strategic approach on engaging with civil society, these FPAs will help strengthen the role of civil society organisations as governance actors, contributing to increased outreach and financial support to new civil actors and to grass-roots communities.

Regional programmes and projects